The Cow Boy 1888


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Description "The Cow Boy"
Date circa 1888(1888)
US-LibraryOfCongress-BookLogo.svg This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID ppmsc.02638.
This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.

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44° 30' 0" N, 100° 0' 0" W

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Public domain
This media file is in the public domain in the United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923. See this page for further explanation.
United States
This image might not be in the public domain outside of the United States; this especially applies in the countries and areas that do not apply the rule of the shorter term for US works, such as Canada, Mainland China (not Hong Kong or Macao), Germany, Mexico, and Switzerland. The creator and year of publication are essential information and must be provided. See Wikipedia:Public domain and Wikipedia:Copyrights for more details.

About this Photograph


This image, entitled "The Cow Boy", was taken by John C. H. Grabill (1866–1934) in 1887. Between about 1888 and 1892, Grabill sent many of his photographic prints to Washington to have them copyrighted. The Grabill collection[1] is now in the w:en:Library of Congress and these photographs are now in the public domain.

Little is known about Grabill. He was born in 1866 in Illinois. Many articles about Grabill can be found at www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org by searching in the region that contains Pitkin County. He was involved in mining in the Aspen and Climax areas from 1881 to 1886[2][3]. Based on the labels on the mounts of the prints, he had photographic studios in Buena Vista, Colorado, Chicago, Illinios and Deadwood, Sturgis and Lead, South Dakota. One of the earliest photographs in the Grabill collection shows Grabill's photographic studio and assay office in Buena Vista, Colorado[4]. According to the Sturgis Weekly Record, Grabill traveled all over the west, looking for a place to open a photographic studio before he settled on Sturgis. He opened his studio in Sturgis in November of 1886. The article in the Record says that one of the things he had to do to open the studio was to train assistants to do the studio photography. This explains how he could live in Aspen while having a studio in Buena Vista and how he could travel and take pictures such as the ones of the W:en:Wounded Knee Massacre while keeping the studio in Deadwood open. Another Article in the Record says that he was leaving the area forever and going to Chicago in October of 1887. An article at this time in the Deadwood paper says he was staying at the Apex Hotel. It seems that he didn't get any farther than Deadwood where he opened another studio. He was the official photographer of the Black Hills Railroad and the Homestake Mine. Most of his photographs were taken in South Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming.

After living in South Dakota Grabill moved to Chicago where he assisted in taking photographs of the W:en:Kwakiutl Indians during the exposition. Historians have been frustrated by their inability to find any of Grabill's notes, glass plate negatives, etc. When he died in 1934 in Peoria County, Illinois his occupation was listed on his death certificate as teamster and janitor for a moving company.

John C. H. Grabill was born in Ohio to David Grabill and Catherine Kees. Brother Elias Grabill died in Kankakee IL and Newton A Grabill died in IL.


According to the text on the mount of this photograph at the Library of Congress, the photograph was actually taken in 1887.

There are three possible identifications of the cow boy:

The Elmo Scott Watson collection at the Newberry Library in Chicago contains an original print of this image. On the lower left corner is the text:

"No. 320 "THE COWBOY"
Fred Pierce, a noted cowboy of Wyoming.
(Photo. and copyright by Grabill, 1887)."

On the back is printed:

"Grabill Chicago Portrait and View CO.,
113 Adams Street,
Opposite Post Office, CHICAGO."

However, Fred Pierce does not appear on either the 1880 or 1890 census of Wyoming. A search of newspapers in Wyoming from this period reveals no mention of Pierce. A search of Ancestry.com for a Fred Pierce in Wyoming during this time reveals nothing.

According to Arizona author Gladwell "Toney" Richardson, who wrote many historical articles and many dime novels and under pseudonyms like "Maurice Kildare", "The Cow Boy" is an unknown member of w:en:Yavapai County Arizona Sheriff John Mulvenon's posse which was sent twice in 1887 to intervene in the w:en:Pleasant Valley War. "The Cow Boy" does bear a striking resemblance to posse member Fletcher Fairchild, later Sheriff of w:en:Coconino County.

A Wikimedia user claims that the cow boy has been identified by a family member as his great grandfather - Claude Stratford-Handcock and that the picture was taken at the H-E Ranch in Sundance, Wyoming. His horse was named Dandy Joe. The H-E Ranche was owned by Stratford-Handcock's aunt, S. Henrietta Carlile-Kent, his maternal aunt. He was later sued while serving as Ms. Carlile-Kent's executor.[5]


Photo's description:
"The Cow Boy"
Public Domain

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EXIF data:
File name the_cow_boy_1888.jpg
Size, Mbytes 1.88241796875
Mime type image/jpeg

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